Jets, Sabres ready to do battle

- April 9th, 2013

The morning skates are complete, the afternoon naps are well underway, and we are only a few hours until puck drop.

Yes, it’s a big game. The Sabres are two points back of the Jets and can move past them in the Eastern Conference standing with a clean win. The Jets can’t move into playoff position with a win, but they can at least be tied with team(s) who are.

A few tidbits leading into tonight’s tilt …

• Several Jets took the morning skate off, including Mark Stuart, Ron Hainsey, Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Andrew Ladd, Toby Enstrom and Zach Bogosian. All are expected to play tonight.

• Rugged winger Anthony Peluso took part in today’s morning skate, marking the first time since he broke his hand that he was with the team during an official workout. He said he’s day-to-day, and it sounds like he could be back next week. I asked him if he could punch someone in the head if it were required. He said: “I’m sure I would if I had to. It’s not advised by the doctors, but at this point I just gotta be careful with it.”

• Sabres forward Steve Ott was a popular fellow this morning in the Buffalo dressing room. He told Buffalo radio station WGR 550 earlier today it was “completely ridiculous” that the team got booed at home during Sunday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. Here’s what Ott had to say to the media after the morning skate: “It’s a tough situation any time you hear the boo birds, and in tight games we want to be a competitive team to play against and obviously they pay a lot of hard-earned money to watch us play, and in certain situations we wish we could find some positive atmosphere from our crowd or some excitement to kind of push us through the hard spots. We got a lot of young guys in this dressing room, and they need the extra energy sometimes as we continue to try and push and grab a playoff spot. That’s a big deal for us.”

• The mini-controversy got everyone’s blood boiling, including Erica Halbrook, who according to the Internet is Ott’s fiancee. She Tweeted the following to Buffalo News reporter Mike Harrington after he criticized her man’s comments: “You do realize you make yourself sound like a complete douchebag, how do you have a career? Be a fan or F off. Simple.” She sounds lovely.

• Sabres winger Thomas Vanek took part in the morning skate, but he will be a game-time decision tonight. He has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury. Vanek leads the Sabres with 16 goals in 29 games.

• The Jets haven’t scored a power-play goal in their last six games.

• Fact that has nothing to do with tonight’s game: Sabres GM Darcy Regier’s son, Justin, is participating in PGA Tour Canada qualifying school this week in California. If Justin gets his card and the Sabres miss the playoffs, maybe Darcy will be able to become his full-time caddie.

• Ondrej Pavelec is 4-0-1 against Buffalo since the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg last year.

• Here are my best guesses at tonight’s lines for both teams:

WINNIPEG
Forwards
Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen, Kyle Wellwood
Eric Tangradi, Alex Burmistrov, Mike Santorelli
James Wright, Aaron Gagnon, Chris Thorburn
Defence
Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey, Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart, Grant Clitsome
Goalies
Ondrej Pavelec
Al Montoya

BUFFALO
Forwards
Nathan Gerbe, Steve Ott, Cody Hodgson
Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno
Brian Flynn, Kevin Porter, Luke Adam
Patrick Kaleta, Jochen Hecht, John Scott
Defence
Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers
Mike Weber, Andrej Sekera
Adam Pardy, Mark Pysyk
Goalies
Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Categories: Hockey

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